THE NEW JERUSALEM

(Revelation 21:9-27)

In verse 9, “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” – this is the same angel back in Rev. 17:1 who brought the last set of plagues, we call the bowls, and showed John the judgment of the great whore. Now in verse 10, this angel carried him “away in the Spirit…” – we’ve seen this back in Rev. 1:10; 4:2; 17:3 as a way of speaking of a special vision. “…to a great and high mountain,..” – now, this high mountain goes back to Ezekiel 40:2 (the rest of this section seems to be very much based on Ezekiel 40-48), and this idea of a high mountain is very important in the Old Testament where people believed God lives on a high mountain (cf. Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1). It is also interesting to note that it was also a high mountain where Jesus was tempted (cf. Matt. 4). You can see many allusions to that because it seems like we’re talking about Jerusalem, the Holy City coming down from heaven – “and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,” – Many have said this is the Millenial Jerusalem, and it’s going to be an end-time Jerusalem. Honestly, i think that’s way too much pushing this type of literature much too hard. And i think that’s inappropriate. In verse 11 and 12, “having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.” – there’s a lot of twelves mentioned; it seems to be a perfect cube which in my opinion speaks of the Holy of Holies. God’s presence has taken the place of the ark of the Covenant, so in a sense, the whole city becomes a temple. There is no temple in the city as you can see down in verse 22. Do we expect to see a city 1500 miles square cube? Not really. It’s a way of speaking of the intimate fellowship and community of the people of God, and it’s put in symbolic terms as all the book has been in symbolic terms. You will also notice Old Testament allusions to the deal about the foundation stones; there are four possible elements of that: Some say it’s the breastplate of the high priests because of the different stones, but the stones aren’t listed in the same order, and the names of the stones change. Some say it goes back to the city of jewels in Isaiah 54:11-12. Others say it goes back to the king of Tyre as he’s dressed in jewels (cf. Ezek. 38:13). Philo and Josephus say it’s the idea that the stones match the 12 signs of the zodiac. I’m not sure which it is, but i think it’s just an allusion to the beauty and grandeur of heaven seen on earthly terms. Notice in verse 21, there will be twelve pearly gates each one cut out of a single pearl. Rabbinical Judaism says something about the ‘Holy One’ bringing with Him precious stones and pearls which will be cut out and will be set up in the gates of Jerusalem (Baba Bathra 75a). Maybe John’s drawing on that, whatever it is it’s symbolic obviously. From the gates, John moves to the city street made of pure gold like a transparent glass which would suggest in transparent glass, any flaw would show up, and therefore depicts flawless quality.

Notice as it says in verse 22, “I saw no temple in it,…” – We’ve seen a heavenly temple in Hebrews 9:23, but that’s gone because perfect fellowship has come. God is with His people. God is the source of everything. God doesn’t need a temple anymore, and so it’s been done away with. Notice as it says, “…for the Lord God the Almighty…” – those three Old Testament titles for God Himself and the Lamb, and ‘They are going to be it’s temple’. You might want to see Revelation 21:3. Now notice as it says in verse 23, “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon…” – this has several Old Testament allusions particularly Isaiah 24:23; 60:19, 20; Psalms 36:9, allusions to God as our Light, and the same thing is said down in Revelation 22:5. Now here come those difficult things in verse 24, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.” – Many say this goes back to Old Testament passages where Gentiles will be included, and i think so too – ‘the nations and the kings of the earth’ taken together stress the universality and pre-eminence of the City. John does not see the salvation of a handful few and the destruction of the vast majority of mankind. He sees the inclusion of gentiles in God’s redemptive agenda. Notice as it mentions, “In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;” – this goes back to Isaiah 60:11 where the gates shall not be shut by day, to provide entry access to the entry of Gentiles. John describes an awesome City where there is no night and whose gates will never be shut. The nations render homage which accrue to its splendor. Nothing unclean or evil will ever enter it because only those whose names are written on the Lamb’s book of life will be allowed to enter its gates.
(TO BE CONTINUED)